Apple Not the First External Trackpad Adopter

What was once thought to be merely rumor was confirmed yesterday as Apple introduced its Magic Trackpad to the world. If you are hearing this for the first time you likely did not access the internet yesterday, as it was plastered over every tech news source imaginable (slow day in tech). This is all fine and dandy, so I won’t bore you with the details. Simply put, the Magic Trackpad connects to your Mac desktop via Bluetooth allowing you to experience the goodness of the three finger click, the swipe, and the two finger scroll, all while viewing your beautiful iMac display.

What struck a wrong chord with me was Apple’s description of its product. On the Apple website, the company claims that the Magic Trackpad is “the first Multi-Touch trackpad designed to work with your Mac desktop computer”. Let’s ponder this for a second…ok, enough pondering. If Apple made such a claim it must be true right, I mean come on, they are Apple. Well not so fast Hasty McHasterson. It would appear that a bit of back knowledge tells a different story.

Wacom, a global company well known amongst creative professionals, has for years been in the business of producing external “tablets” for PCs and Macs. These tablets connect to your computer via a USB port and act in place of a mouse, mirroring your movements from the tablet to the screen. Wacom is most famous for their tablets which utilize a stylus, allowing for a much more natural experience when drawing or painting on the computer. Certain high-end tablets will even duplicate the desktop images on the LCD screen of the tablet, contributing to an even more intuitive design experience.

For several years now Wacom has offered its Bamboo line of tablets including the Bamboo Touch model. The Bamboo Touch is a multi-touch trackpad that essentially does everything the Magic Trackpad can do. The usability of the Bamboo Touch does slightly differ from the Magic Trackpad in the number of fingers used, click method, etc. but the general concept is the same.

I have never used the Bamboo Touch, but I have used several other Wacom stylus models and have been nothing short of pleased with the usability that the products offer. Even though Apple has made false claims here, the increased hype for trackpads could also benefit Wacom in the long run. The Bamboo Touch goes for $49.99 on the Wacom website, as opposed to the $69.99 price tag for the Magic Trackpad. Mac users drooling over the thought of a desktop trackpad but looking to save a few bucks could potentially go for the Wacom version instead. Wacom could also possibly see sales increase from PC users, who have heard all the hoopla from the Magic Trackpad and wish for an option to comfort their Windows filled hearts.

All in all interest in trackpads is surely much greater today than it was a week ago, and I hope that amidst Apple’s false claims that Wacom can pick up some sales as well. Apple’s statement really is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it is just a minor example of a company thinking they can do whatever they please. If you will excuse me, I am going to go email Steve Jobs in hope for a sarcastic response back.

28. July 2010 by Alex Trevisan
Categories: Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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